God Called Me from a Dark Place to Live for Him
-Mark C.

God Called Me from a Dark Place to Live for Him

My name is Mark, and this is my story.

The story of how I came to know God personally and obtained a living, personal relationship with Him begins when I was just a toddler. My parents had gotten a divorce, and my time spent between them was split. Every other weekend, I would visit my father in Bayonne and subsequently visit my grandmother as well. It was from my grandma that I was first introduced to the Bible and to the Good News of Jesus Christ. As my sister and I grew, my grandma would encourage us with the things of God and take us to a strong, Bible-believing church. As a kid, I identified as being a Christian, but there was no evidence in my life that what I was claiming was legit.
As I entered my middle school years, I became less interested in going to church and was more enthusiastic about playing pop warner football. It was during this time that I also started being influenced by rock and metal music. When I turned 13, I was introduced to smoking weed and was quickly enamored with getting high and experimenting with whatever else I could get my hands on.
"My grandma would encourage us with the things of God."
That same year, prescription pills, ecstasy, alcohol, and other drugs were introduced to me, opening the door to a path of sin and rebellion. At this time in my life, I had stopped regularly visiting my dad every other weekend because of excuses I would make to stay in my hometown and hang out with my friends. When I did visit him, we did not make it a point to attend church regularly, although my grandma would always encourage us to come and hear the preaching of God's Word.

When I was 15, my father entered into eternity on Thanksgiving day. This news was extremely devastating and heartbreaking. I’m thankful for the time God gave me to know my father and spend time with him. Some time after his death, I received some things of his, including his Bible. I did not immediately open it or read it until about a year after his death. I don’t remember why I started reading it, but once I did, I couldn’t stop. I was truly excited to read for myself about all the stories I had heard as a kid in church with my grandma. This excitement however was short lived, as my girlfriend at the time was not at all as enthused as I was about reading the Bible. I ended up pushing the Bible aside and pursued her until our relationship finally came to an end. At this point, I was still involved in the drug life and was continuing to be a rebellious teenager.
"I regularly had mixed feelings of anger, sadness, and lack of direction in my life."
After I turned 18, I was arrested and spent a few days in the county jail until a friend of mine bailed me out. This was one of the lowest points in my life. I regularly had mixed feelings of anger, sadness, and lack of direction in my life. I realize now that the Lord had used these things to get my attention and to point me to Him
A little over a month after coming out of the county jail, I opened up the Bible again and started reading. Around that time, I called my grandma, and the conversation turned towards spiritual things. I cannot recall the words that were said, but what I do recall is coming to a realization that my sin had separated me from God and that I was going to have to pay for my sins when I died – a debt I could not afford. “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23. From an early age, I understood I was a sinner, but that day I realized how offensive my sin was to God. He could not just wink at the sin in my life, but it had to be paid for.

I found that Jesus had paid for my sins, and I could be forgiven of them. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:14 I knew I was deserving of hell, and I came to a place of genuine repentance. My view of myself changed, my view of my sin changed, and my view of the Lord had changed. No longer did I want to sit on the throne of my life, but I wanted to allow the Lord to reign and to lead me. I read Jesus' words about repentance in Luke 13:3 “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” I then put my full trust and confidence in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus as being a sufficient payment for all the sins I had committed - past, present, and future. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8. In that very moment, God saved my soul and imparted to me His very Spirit. Jesus Christ alone is the reason for my salvation. Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
My new, real faith evidenced in many drastic changes in my life. I began to think differently, talk differently, live differently. I became so hungry and thirsty for God's Word that I continually searched and studied the Scriptures day after day. I began attending church every Sunday with my grandma, and she really helped disciple me during those days. My friends could not believe the change in my life.
"My new, real faith evidenced in many drastic changes in my life."
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 My desire after that has been to share all of what God did for me and for what He would do for any who would come to Him. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13.

Sadly, since then I have not always been a great example of what a follower of Jesus should look like. There were times that I was involved in my old way of life and was caught up in sin with many of my old friends. I’m thankful though that God chastened me and brought me back to walk with Him again. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” Hebrews 12:6 After I made a move to Pennsylvania, I searched out a good Bible-preaching church and have been growing again ever since.

Is your life messed up, dark, and going nowhere good? Maybe you’ve experimented with drugs and sin like I did and discovered that it is not fulfilling and only leads you down. I urge you to seek the Lord! He came to “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10 He invites you to come to Him for salvation, and I invite you as well!